Intel's crazy fast Optane memory, storage products to hit enthusiast PCs first

Next year, enthusiast desktops could get the fastest SSDs ever

3D Xpoint die

3D XPoint is the technology behind Optane products.

Credit: Intel

Intel's Optane products, promising much faster SSDs and memory, will reach enthusiast PCs next year, then spread to other desktops and mobile products.

The news, bound to delight gamers in particular, came from Kirk Skaugen, senior vice president and general manager of the Client Computing Group (CCG) at Intel, during the company's annual investor conference on Thursday.

Optane is the brand name for a new class of memory and storage based on a technology called 3D Xpoint. 3D Xpoint memory media can be 10 times denser than DRAM, and 1,000 times faster and durable than flash storage. Optane was developed jointly by Intel and Micron.

Intel will also release in 2016 Optane solid-state drives and other 3D Xpoint memory media products for servers based on the Skylake architecture, which also will ship next year.

The first Optane products are expected to be SSDs and memory DIMMs that plug into memory slots. Intel is sampling XPoint DIMMs starting next year, so the technology could reach PCs and servers soon after.

Enthusiast desktop users include gamers, who are typically among the early adopters of new technology. Gamers may see immediate benefits of the faster storage and memory with Optane products.

Intel has demonstrated Optane storage operating at approximately seven times faster than its current SSDs. The underlying 3D Xpoint technology breaks the bottlenecks affecting current memory and storage technology. Intel has said Optane is the most significant memory and storage technology since NAND flash was introduced 25 years ago.

The 3D Xpoint technology is based on technology in which memory cells sit in a three-dimensional mesh. The structure ensures data can be written in small sizes and faster read and write speeds.

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